Courtesy of Pepsi Co.Amanda MacMillan, SELF magazine
Remember Crystal Pepsi? That crap was weird, right? Well, Japanese consumers saw something even kookier hit shelves last week: the fiber-infused, "fat-blocking" Pepsi Special. The ads read something like this: "Why choose between a hamburger and a slice of pizza? If you choose Pepsi Special, you can have both!" We turned stateside, to a trusted nutrition expert, to get the scoop on this strange-but-true addition to the food and beverage world, and more importantly, to see if it lives up to its hype.
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Soda is just the latest--and undoubtedly one of the unhealthiest--places synthetic fiber, also known as "functional fiber" is being added to boost overall fiber content; you can also find it in breads, bars, yogurts and other packaged foods. The type of fiber in Pepsi Special is dextrin, made from potato starch--and in one 2006 Japanese study, rats who consumed dextrin absorbed less fat than rats who didn't, hence the new soda's "fat-blocking" label. Isn't marketing swell?
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But what about the fact that fiber helps us feel full and eat less? "Fiber from natural sources will help you feel full; it will also help decrease cholesterol levels and improve digestion," Meltzer Warren agrees. "But there are no guarantees when it comes to fiber that has been added to foods. In one recent study, snack bars with fiber added to them didn't make women feel any fuller than bars without added fiber."
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"In general, nutrients work in concert with each other," she adds. "When you try to mix and match them they tend not to have the same benefits as they do when found in nature." There's no such thing as healthy soda: Research shows that people who drink diet soda weigh more than people who don't, and adding fiber to the mix probably won't change that. Plus, getting your daily fiber needs from soda means you're missing out on the important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you'll find in naturally fiber-rich foods. The real trick to "blocking fat?" Consume less of it in the first place! Curb your cravings by eating more actual fiber-rich foods, like vegetables, beans and whole grains--and if Pepsi Special ever makes its way to the States, don't fall for the hype.
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